The Founders Award was established by the Trustees of the Charleston Library Society to recognize a person who exemplifies the values of the 19 young men who collaborated in 1748 to found what remains one of America’s earliest and enduring cultural and intellectual centers. This award also prizes leadership and philanthropy undertaken in pursuit of those values, and reflects a demonstrated desire to appreciate our past and understand its relationship to the future.
This year, we are thrilled to honor our 2023 award recipient, David M. Rubenstein, who not only embodies our 1748 Founding Members’ goal of promoting knowledge and shared learning, but who is also a visionary leader with a deep and proven commitment to civic engagement and lifelong scholarship.
Join us on April 20, from 7:00pm – 8:30pm, as we celebrate David M. Rubenstein. There will be toasts, tributes, and a lively conversation led by CNN Senior Political Analyst and Anchor John Avlon.
This evening will be made possible through the generous support of our Sponsors*
Ken and Anne Tidwell
Anne and Will Cleveland
Comerica Bank & Trust
Mr. and Mrs. John M. Dunnan
First Capital Bank
Sean W. Holleran and Lucas J. Murley
Martha Rivers Ingram
Tickets are $75 for Members, $100 for Guests. To purchase, click here.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities, click here, or call 843.723.9912.
About David Rubenstein:
David Rubenstein is a former government official, a lawyer, and a co-founder / co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity investment company based in Washington, D.C. He currently serves as chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, the Council on Foreign Relations, and The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and is a former chairman of the Duke University Board of Trustees and the Smithsonian Institution. In 2022, he became chair of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees.
In addition to his business success and acumen, Mr. Rubenstein is also an extraordinarily generous and thoughtful philanthropist. In December 2007, he purchased the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta to loan to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In 2011, he gave $13.5 million to the National Archives for a new gallery and visitors center, and the next year donated $7.5 million towards the repair of the Washington Monument. The list of beneficiaries of his generosity goes on.
Most remarkably he was an early signer of the Giving Pledge, the campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage wealthy individuals to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.
About Charleston Library Society Founders:
In 1748, 19 young men who had embraced Enlightenment ideals but did not have enough wealth to assemble their own private libraries decided to pool their resources to create a membership library. (For perspective, Thomas Jefferson was only five years old at this time.) To accomplish their goals, the members decided to avail themselves of the latest publications from Great Britain, and they contracted with London booksellers to purchase and build a respectable inventory. The Library Society quickly became “the center of intellectual life of the city.” It served as an intellectual and civic forum, a promoter of both formal and informal meetings and discussion. George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette were early members, as were four signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The members hosted social and political events as well as scientific, natural history, and astronomical observations and experiments. There was constant discussion about founding a college and enhancing the cultural aspects of the city, which was accomplished in 1770. Three years later, the Library Society founded the first museum in America on January 12, 1773, using the British Museum as a model. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney served as the institution’s first curator, pulling from the Library’s core collection of materials assembled over the previous 51 years. The Society held regular dinners, welcomed people with a desire to improve their minds, and passionately developed the Library’s collection by purchasing books of history, science and technology, classical and modern literature, as well as manuscripts on other topics.
The Library Society is recognized as the second-oldest circulating library in America and the oldest cultural institution in the South. In January 2023, the Society began its celebration of its 275th anniversary.